The photographer handed me a microphone and sat me on a stool in front of a background full of lens flares and neon. “You’re a star!” He told me. “Why don’t you sing us a song?”
I blinked at him and willed my face into the best offering I could muster: a flat-lipped stare my parents call “the look.” I remember thinking, “You don’t even know me. Don’t tell me who I am.” (I know, I was a weird six year old.)
He snapped a few pictures. I slid off the stool, dropped the mic, and went back to my book.
It seems silly that I would remember that minor interaction all these years later, but when people make statements about our identities I think we listen, whether they’re correct or not. And often we confuse those words with truth and dwell on those messages. It’s hard not to, especially when we sometimes hear the same messages over and over again. It seems like everyone in the world has an idea, a quick fix, or a cure-all to help us figure out who we are and whether or not we’re “important.”
But because we’re all women made in God’s image, we already have value. Nothing to do, nothing to earn, nothing to strive after. We can each rest assured that our identities are secure because of Jesus. Our identities as women loved individually by God will never, ever change, no matter what.
Sometimes we forget or ignore our God-given identities because we do dumb stuff or other people do dumb stuff to us or life gets in the way. That’s why it’s so important to lean into Jesus. Study what He has to say, especially in regards to His love toward you. Let it roll around in your heart; wrestle with it; rest in it. When we consistently meet with God and read His Word, we’ll gain a clearer picture of our truest selves as God sees us and we’ll start to recognize His work in the bigger picture of our lives as well.
As we settle into our God-given identities, we can also work to figure out our callings, our dreams, and the things that set us apart from one another. Since our identities are secure in Christ, we have a lot of freedom to figure out the rest! So how do we go about doing that?
WE GET CURIOUS. I don’t know about you, but when I’m not sure what to do I tend to freeze. The problem with that is while I might feel safer, I stop learning and growing.
When we choose to use our curiosity wisely, we might find new dreams, new inspiration, new relationships, new hobbies, new passion, or even new solutions for old problems. As we try to figure out our next steps, it’s a great idea to pursue some new things. Ask questions without worrying about what others might think. Leave lots of room for mistakes and adjustments.
And if we find we’re uninterested or completely lacking aptitude for that particular new thing? Excellent! We’ve learned something else about ourselves, and we can move on to other things.
Also, when we’re trying to figure out how to become our truest, best selves, WE REFLECT. Sometimes we’ve heard messages of shame our entire lives. Or we may have tried to cope with a painful situation when we were younger in a way that holds us back as we mature. Because we live in a broken, hurting world, we are all somewhat broken and hurting ourselves.
Take time to reflect. Ask yourself why you sometimes overreact when certain situations come up. Figure out the areas of your life where you experience shame. Look at sin issues that have become themes in your life.
Then be honest and vulnerable about those things with God. Ask Him to go there with you so you can learn, grow, heal, and have a stronger relationship with Him and others.
WE GET INVOLVED. Even though I’m a hardcore introvert, I still believe in the value of a strong community. I wouldn’t be who I am today without a community of strong women and men who are still teaching me how to follow Jesus, how to love others, and how to love myself.
Be intentional about your community. Build a group of friends, encouragers, and counselors around you—people you admire and who challenge you. Tell them your secrets and ask for their advice. It’s worth it!
Also, get involved by serving your broader community in Jesus’ name. Our neighborhoods, schools, cities, and countries need to know the love of God that’s a part of our lives. We’ll find more of ourselves as we give the time, resources, and talents we’ve already been given by God.
WE LET GO. I’m a goal setter. Like, my goals have sub-goals. So I get it if you’re the girl who wants to start a small business while taking fourteen AP classes as you learn how to speak Mandarin and maintain a YouTube channel. And I get it that you want to rock all those things.
But women who grow and flourish know where our limits are. We say no to some good things so we can say yes to excellent things. We let go of the things we cannot change, placing them back in God’s hands as many times as it takes. We own our feelings and stop taking responsibility for the feelings of others.
And WE HAVE GRACE FOR THE WOMEN WE ARE RIGHT NOW. Because, as it turns out, even though we’ve got some growing and learning and becoming to do, we’re pretty wonderful right now too.
How do you plan to be intentional in your journey toward becoming who God made you to be? What’s one step you can take today to move forward?